A Difficult Goodbye.

I last wrote 2 years ago, when my life was at the start of it’s best. I had met the person in my life who filled all the voids and felt no need to write my thoughts down. It is a shame that today I type because 10 long days ago I lost someone so influential and vital from my life.

I moved to Birmingham on Sunday 31st May 2015 after getting married and on Tuesday 2nd June 2015 there was a suspicious knock at the door. Being my first day at home alone in a straaaange city, I admit I was hesitant to open it. So I peeped out the kitchen window blinds and was relieved to see my husband’s cousin’s wife (yes, us Asians like to long out relations – basically my cousin-in-law) standing there smiling. I let her in and we sat and chatted for an hour and half about my wedding, honeymoon and how I felt finally moving to Birmingham. She explained she had come to see me because she knew how it felt to be in a new home; not really sure where to begin with unpacking and how to handle all the new relations. She helped me feel so at ease with my surroundings and reassured me that she also felt she could not cook so I wasn’t alone!!

Fatima Abdulla-Khaku that day didn’t exist for me in my life as an in-law, but a sister and more importantly a friend who I could always rely on. I awaited family dinners so I could always have a natter with her and got super excited when we went out to watch a film at the cinema, even though Fatima without fail always made us late! But honestly, we always had a laugh about it and it was a part of her I really loved. After every drive, we would promise to message each other and go for a run or join a gym so we could lose weight, only to really message each other and say ‘Yeah too busy eating today! LOL next time!’

A week ago I physically said goodbye to Fatima, but she will always be in my heart and in my mind constantly. You may wonder what the reason is for me telling complete strangers about mine and Fatima’s friendship…well it is because the only time I told her with words out loud that I loved her and she was one of the most kind people I had ever met was the day she left us forever. For me, that was far too late but I am grateful I could say the words out loud and tell her what she really meant to me.

We often go through life taking the people we love for granted and although we show them we love them and that is maybe what truly counts, it is so important to tell them too. Life can change in the blink of an eye and people who are in front of us today could be gone tomorrow, so appreciate the good moments and tell the ones you love what they mean to you.

Fatima left us far too quickly but she had a lasting impact on everyone she met. I have no doubt God took her back because He loved her more than us and because she was far too good for this world. The amount of people that came to her funeral and the flowers on her grave are signs themselves of Fatima’s loving and caring nature. She would drop everything to be there when you needed her and she had a glowing smile on her face every time I saw her. She had a way of making you feel like you were the most special person to her, and that is something I take away from her passing…to be kind to everyone I meet.

I will end on a saying which sums up what I have tried to say and what I see Fatima achieved in her 28 years as a daughter, wife, sister, friend and even acquaintance: “Live amongst people in such a manner that if you die they weep over you, and if you are alive they crave for your company” – Imam Ali (as).

 

 

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Perfect Imperfection.

We’ve all come across those couples who we think are made for each other. Everything about them just fits and they compliment each other without flaw. I look at those couples and it brings me back to two particular verses in the Quran about how God brings individuals together from different paths to make them one and enstills love and affection between them to allow growth and progression.

“…If you had spent all that is in the earth, you could not have brought their hearts together; but Allah brought them together. Indeed, He is Exalted in Might and Wise.” (8:63)

“Among His proofs is that He created for you spouses from among yourselves, in order to have tranquility and contentment with each other, and He placed in your hearts love and care towards your spouses. In this, there are sufficient proofs for people who think.” (30:21)

The most beautiful thing about couples who are made for each other is that they are far from perfect. Both come with their own past, insecurities, ‘issues’, habits and attitudes, but the decisive factor is how they as a unit tackle the many challenges and clashes they will face. At the start of a blossoming relationship the word ‘perfect’ crops up alot and the flaws are quickly looked past because of initial attraction and connection. However, as reality sets in what really matters is that the two individuals realise in order for thier union to thrive and prosper in the right way they need qualities such as patience, be understanding towards each other and show genuine non-judgement of their partner, because let’s face it – nobody is perfect.

As well as those vital qualities, two people become strong together by never abandoning each other when the going gets tough. Too many instances occur where as soon as a dilemma arises, one is quick to find the door because it got too hard. Every relationship has its own developing love story hidden or sometimes even apparent but when it really comes down to it, “Love is absolute loyalty. People fade, looks fade, but loyalty never fades. You can depend so much on certain people, you can set your watch by them. And that’s love, even if it doesn’t seem very exciting.”

The list of qualities needed for a partnership to succeed can go on forever because everyone is different, however as Imam Ali (as) says, “Three things bring about love: good temperament, kindness and humbleness.”

Although I have outlined in my opinion aspects which can work towards formulating a perfect relationship, in all honesty just as no individual is perfect, no partnership is 100% perfect either. It takes hard work, effort from both sides and true understanding of one another to begin the journey towards the holistic, well balanced and beautiful companionship described in scriptures and famously in history.

To end on a quote, because it’s too tempting not to…“We come to love not by finding a perfect person, but by learning to see an imperfect person perfectly.”

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Change your thoughts; change the world.

Life gets busy sometimes and we often forget to do the simple things we enjoy, right? For me it is sitting down with a good read and cup of tea or simply writing down my current thoughts and ideas in some hope of formulating a masterpiece (which never really materialises!). I haven’t written for a long time, not only because life got hectic but also because the thoughts residing and passing through my mind troubled me and needed coaxing. It took alot of time and effort on my part to understand and alter my faltering thoughts. However, I have finally realised why recently my life has taken a turn for the better, for my title echoes – I changed my thoughts and I changed my world.

The journey of life continues through countless tests and challenges. Whether big or small these challenges strengthen us and keep us moving forward through learning via experience. Along the thorny road certain individuals you come across will hurt you or your loved ones and divert your journey to a path of grudges and negativity. Now I’m not saying this is consciously done and intentional, however through our choices and human nature, we often don’t realise we have been redirected. Thoughts arise where we wonder how people could hurt us, betray us, or abandon us; unfortunately leaving us with less than good thoughts and feelings towards them. However, we can never be free of bitterness as long as we allow ourselves to form unforgiving thoughts.

How can we be happy in this present moment if we continue to choose to think angry and resentful thoughts? Thoughts of bitterness will not produce joy no matter how justified we feel or what ‘they’ did to us. If we insist on holding onto the past then it is us who will never be free. Forgiveness of ourselves and others will release us from the prison of the past.

When we feel we are stuck in a situation or our lives are not flowing freely in the present, it usually means there is something from our past holding us back – regret, sadness, fear, resentment, hurt, guilt, blame, anger, or even sometimes desire for revenge. Each of them comes from unforgiveness and a refusal on our part to let go and come into the present. We can only create our future from the present moment, not the past.

Thoughts and words are only powerful in the moment of now so we can’t waste our current thoughts to continue to create a future from the negativity of the past. When we blame others, we give all control and power away because we are placing the responsibility of our feelings onto someone else. People will behave in ways which trigger uncomfortable responses within us, however they did not create the buttons they are pushing. Controlling the emotions that arise masters our ability to respond and we learn to consciously choose a course rather than just reacting.

Forgiveness and acceptance are different. When we forgive we do not in any way condone or justify people’s behaviour towards us; in fact it really has nothing to do with them at all. It is a simple act of releasing ourselves of negativity and can only bring peace to our state of mind. What we often fail to realise is that although it takes time and a concious effort of affirmations and training on our part, we can let things go and we can always choose thoughts that are positive for ourselves and our lives.

When we wake up in the morning we must tell ourselves that we govern our lives and we can achieve anything we want to because we work hard and no matter who throws a rock in our path, we have the ability to step over it and keep going. Martha Washington says: “I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I find myself. For I have learnt that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.”

So as of today – truly forgive; not always because they earned it but because you deserve peace of mind and a good life 🙂 Positive thoughts will always bring positive effects.

*motivation for this post comes from listening to the works of Louise Hay about positive thinking.

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Sticks and Stones.

Everyone has been brought up hearing the phrase, ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’, right? Funnily enough now I think of it, as I grew up it was words that hurt me more than physical pain from ‘sticks and stones’. Hurtful words can make or break a person and it is sad that idle talk and gossip now in some communities shape a person’s future.

It’s ironic that with me coming from such a large and diverse community, I have found negetive words about people spread like wildfire as if the community was so small. Mark Twain says, “A lie can travel halfway across the world while the truth is still putting it’s shoes on.” Sometimes the things that are said about people may be true, but usually the likelihood is people have added their own spice to it to make it a good ‘story’ for people to hear, and most of the time the initial fabrication is just that – fabricated rubbish because people have nothing better to do with their time than talk bad of others.

Also, have you noticed the trend…it’s usually your own family or friends that ‘kindly’ inform you that things are being said about you behind your back. However one observation and some food for thought…those who like to be messengers with the ‘informative’ stories about you – why are they telling you what was said about you? How about they tell you why they felt so comfortable listening to it in the first place? It reminds me of a story we can all learn from about Imam Ali (as), where a man came and told him what the people in the city were saying about him negetively. Imam Ali did not get upset with the people of the city who were badmouthing him, in fact he turned and said to this man, “What they said about me is between them and Allah (swt) and I was not aware of it. They threw a spear and it landed on the ground, but you picked it up and stabbed it in my back.” This really goes to show just how hurtful the messenger can be too…

The sad and painful truth is, human beings cannot help but pass on a story which they think will spark some more talk. Whether in a small community or large community…the way of the world is when someone is going through hell, strangers like to get involved and start gossiping about them. Have we ever sat down and thought about how we would feel if something life changing happened to us and others could do nothing but talk about us behind our backs? We often get caught up in idle gossip and think it’s harmless to tell another of something we have heard about someone, but you know what it comes back to another little phrase every child grew up hearing and one I constantly reinforce to my students at school, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

We’ve all been in both front seats of the gossip car…either as the one driving and talking…or the one sitting in the passenger’s seat listening and responding ‘innocently’. Both, yes both are equally as bad as each other. Whether you do the talking or the listening, you are in turn hurting someone else. Sometimes it may be someone who has no relevance to your existence, but believe me…you definitely become relevant to thier existence. My mum gave me some amazing advice as I was growing up and that was that if you can’t keep something between your two lips, how will it stay between four? Gossip never stops. It can mean nothing to those spreading it, but like I said it can change someone’s life and kill good opportunities for them.

Now for my real advice for those who have been there, done that and got the t-shirt for having suffered from being at the receiving end of people’s irrelevent and petty small-talk. People will always have something to say, it is inevitable however it really does come back to what we grew up hearing about ‘sticks and stones’. “People are often unreasonable, illogical and self-centred; forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish motives; be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies; succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you; be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight; build anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous; be happy anyway. The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow; do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough; give them your best anyway. In the final analysis, it’s between you and God; it was never between you and them anyway.” (Mother Theresa).

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Betrayal.

“Always question where your loyalty lies. The people you trust will expect it. Your enemies will desire it. And those you treasure the most will without doubt, abuse it.”

Betrayal. An 8 letter word that reaps havoc in someone’s life. A disgusting, horrible thing to do to someone. I am actually sitting here with so much in my mind and the words don’t flow to allow my fingers to type about this topic because it hurts me that these days betrayal is something so easy. People betray each other left, right and centre and an eyelid isn’t batted because it has become the norm.

We are told not to expect anything from anyone because that is how we get hurt. I remember reading a quote somewhere…”Expect the unexpected and you’ll never be disappointed.” Whoever has said that to someone and believed it isn’t living in reality. It is human nature to have expectations, whether you admit it or not. It isn’t that we expect kindness from people we are kind to, it isn’t that we expect lavish gifts back when we give them, it isn’t even that we expect the same amount of love and care we give to be received in return. We expect loyalty. We expect for them to not betray us. That is all we really expect of people. Mutual respect.

So I asked a few people what they think of when someone says the word ‘Betrayal’ and the answers were kind of what I expected. I got responses like when a partner is unfaithful, when someone steals from their family, when people take advantage and when someone does something so you can’t trust them. Yeah those do fall into the category of betrayal no doubt…but have you ever really thought what the simplest form of betrayal could be? It comes down to something people see as minor…some people don’t even realise it is betrayal…breaking a promise. It is such a shame that some people have forgotten the value and essence of staying true to their word.

Betrayal hurts like hell. Malcolm X says “To me, the thing that is worse than death is betrayal. You see, I could conceive death, but I could not conceive betrayal.” The worst thing about betrayal is you never do see it coming. You are a good person and therefore expect others to show you that same amount of goodness back…but you don’t see that knife behind you or sometimes even right in front of you. It’s saddening when the person you would take a bullet for is the one pulling the trigger.

The effects and consequences of betrayal for the one whose been hurt are painful…however there is so much to learn from it. We have all heard the saying ‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger’ and as hard as that is to believe at the time, it is very on point. You will always find it teaches you lessons for future relationships and the signs to look out for in someone who is going to be disloyal to you, your kindness, good nature and on the whole – your entire relationship. Betrayal can be something tiny or it can be huge like cheating…but the effect of someone’s disloyalty never leaves you, especially when you hold them so close to your heart.

I am going to be bold enough to say people who betray relationships have no conscience. Truth is when someone sticks that knife in…they are the ones losing out and paving the path for their own hand to be dealt because as I heard today…evil begets evil. What goes around most definitely comes around. So all you can do when someone hurts you is make a vow to yourself and God…a vow that you will never do the same thing to anyone else.

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Friends till the very end.

I’ve had this niggling in my fingertips all day to sit down and write. So I’ve finally sat down with a topic that’s been running round my mind for weeks, something everyone can relate to…friendship. Something we all want, something we all cherish and something we all sometimes take for granted!

I’m a very lucky girl in the department of friends. I’ve always had this tight nit group of friends I turn to when I am in dire need of a dose of reality and those same friends can sit with me and laugh about the silliest things. True friendship is a blessing in disguise from God I believe, ‘cos he is giving you these angels and saying ‘they’ll look after you don’t you worry’. It’s like one of His amazing gifts especially for you.

As a Muslim I turn to quotes from important personalities within my religion and the son-in-law of the Prophet, Imam Ali (as) was one of the wisest. He once said, “The one who has the most blessed life is the one who supports others during his life.” This made me really think about the support I have in my life and how I can reciprocate it for my close friends. I realised over time that it’s a wonderful thing having a laugh and giggle when you’re out or you’ve met up, but in reality friendship boils down to a simple question – are you there when they need you the most? That doesn’t mean you have to be all up in their face asking if they’re okay every five minutes, it simply means you let them know throughout their life they can depend on you and call/text you anytime and you will do everything in your power to cheer them up or help them out.

Imam Ali also says, “Verily, your true friend is he who is really with you, who will harm himself in order to benefit you, and who, when trouble of the time breaks you, will shatter himself to pieces in order to gather you together.” This spoke volumes for me in thinking about what I needed to do to be a good friend to the people around me and it meant I needed to show qualities like loyalty, selflessness and care to act as a basis and foundation for my relationship. From life experience I can say there are some people in your life who will come and go as friends and others who will always be there, those are the ones who will never leave regardless of time and distance.

Some friends will stab you in the back no doubt and it will kill. However you will learn from it and you will see that those people were there to test your strength and show you what a friend really needs to be like. Word of advice, don’t try and stab them back. Walk away knowing you are a better person than them because “the true measure of a person is how they treat someone who can do them absolutely no good.”

So my love for quotes hasn’t ended yet – sorry! I’ve always loved this one and I guess it sums up friendship pretty well and that the trait of honesty is vital in every relationship. “One who reveals your faults to you like a mirror is your true friend.” – Imam Hussain (as).

Food for thought as I leave you for now – “A person would not forget two types of faces in his life. The one who helped him in his time of need and the one who left him alone in difficult times” (Imam Hussain). So who will you be to your close ones…?

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Open to change…

People have always told me that you can never look at someone else’s pain, no matter how minor; and dismiss it as being unworthy of attention just because you may know of others’ going through far worse. Everyone’s pain is entitled to attention, regardless how small because no one knows the battles a person fights deep within.

In the past three months I have lost three life changing relationships. I could sit here and drown my sorrows through my words, but it wouldn’t bring anything back. All I can do is look ahead to my future and TRY to think of positives. I remind myself that my Lord will never leave me, for He says quite clearly in Chapter 2 Verse 216, “…and it may be that you dislike a thing while it be good for you, and it may be that you love a thing while it is evil for you, and Allah knows, while you do not know.” People easily let it roll off their tongue, ‘Everything happens for the best’ and you go along with it, but in reality when you are going through hell that is a difficult concept to really believe. I guess it comes down to just how much faith you have within you, because you are either as strong as your faith or as weak as your fears. I remind myself everyday that whatever I lose…one day I will see the good and purpose in the hurt I feel today.

Loss leads you to realise that you can’t live your life for others. A work colleague told me just today that people see it as immature when you look after ‘Number One’. Hell no! If anything, knowing that you need to put yourself first sometimes shows real maturity. It’s only when you’ve suffered in life that you can understand just how important it is to think about your own needs in this life. In the end you can’t use the excuse ‘It wasn’t my fault’ because God gave you this life for you to take responsibility for. When you make an effort to change your situation – He will step in and help you…but you have to be the one to take initiative.

Back to my title…being open to change. Yeah…well…it’s damn hard. Loss in the past three months taught me you can’t expect others to be good people just because you are. Loss and change are two things which can make or break you and the only way I was going to change was after being broken. I killed myself emotionally crossing oceans for people who wouldn’t even contemplate jumping puddles for me and I realised things HAD to change. It’s a scary thought knowing people I grew up with and people I thought I would spend my life with are now but a distant memory. My life has changed. Only thing that keeps me going and should keep every other soul who is terrified of change going is that “whatever you have lost through fate, be certain it saved you from pain” (Rumi) and God gave you this life because you were strong enough to live it. A good friend reminded me today of a prayer I had forgotten, “Oh Allah, when I lose hope because my plans have come to nothing, help me to remember that Your love is greater than my disappointments and Your plans for my life are better than my dreams.”

So…don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened (Dr Suess).

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